RIP Bob Stupak (1942-2009)

by , Sep 25, 2009 | 4:14 pm

Las Vegas businessman, poker player, and one-time candidate for Lt. Governor of Nevada, Bob Stupak died today in Las Vegas of leukemia. He was 67-years old.

KVBC of Las Vegas printed the news release:


LAS VEGAS – Bob Stupak, who is best known for revolutionizing the Las Vegas Strip with the development of The Stratosphere, passed away today at the age of 67.

Stupak was with close family at the Desert Springs Hospital this afternoon when medical maladies, including leukemia, took his life at 1:15 p.m. Per Stupak’s request, he will be cremated and there will not be a funeral.

Stupak was born in Pittsburgh, Penn. in 1942. Stupak made his final move to Las Vegas in 1971, and in 1974 he opened “Bob Stupak’s World Famous Historic Gambling Museum” at the north corner of Sahara Avenue at Las Vegas Boulevard South.

In 1979, Stupak opened Vegas World, where he innovated the industry with new twists on promotions and games that would be modeled for years to come. In 1989, Stupak won a widely publicized million dollar wager on Super Bowl XXIII, and later that year he won the Deuce to Seven Lowball Championship Bracelet at the World Series of Poker.

In 1995, Stupak suffered a motorcycle accident that broke every bone in his face and caused him to go into a coma. Although the initial prognosis was that he would not survive, Stupak made a full recovery. He went on to open The Stratosphere in 1996, and sold it to Carl Icahn in 1998. Stupak continued to work in hotel-casino development and as a professional poker player.

Stupak was an integral part of the Las Vegas community, and made substantial contributions to The City of Las Vegas Chester Stupak Family Park, named for his father, the Stupak Community Center, and more.

Stupak is survived by two sisters, Linda Phillips and Nancy O’Conner, both reside in Pittsburgh, Penn., as well as two daughters, Nicole in Sydney, Australia, and Summer in Las Vegas, and his son, Nevada, who also resides in Las Vegas. He is also survived by two ex-wives, Sandra Blumen of Las Vegas, and Annette Hatton of Sydney, Australia.

5 Comments to “RIP Bob Stupak (1942-2009)”

  1. Kevin Mathers

    He also ran for mayor of Vegas. He’s certainly an interesting person, and his website: has plenty of interesting clips of his various media appearances (including beating Russ Hamilton heads-up at Binion’s).

  2. Uncle Ray

    Of the many interesting characters in the history of Las Vegas, he was one of the more memorable ones.
    Bob Stupak was the epitome of Las Vegas inventiveness. He always had an idea of how to be different, how to make his place stand out. He’ll be missed.

  3. DanM

    To some extent, you can argue he helped kick off the new era of poker in the mid 1980s when he played Orac — Mike Caro’s poker playing computer — on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Can’t remember if they were playing for $1 million or $100k, but Stupak won under questionable circumstances (a power outage led to a misdeal in a critical hand).

    It was the first time the world witnessed the confluence of high-stakes poker, computer play, television, and celebrity gamblers.

    My most memorable encounter with him occurred at the 2006 WSOP, while drinking at the Rio hooker bar with Scott Fawcett, who beckoned over a very hammered, pasty white Stupak so we could buy him a drink. He came over to indulge us, but the large dark-skinned prostitute (nearly twice his size, 10x his hue) holding him up was not about to let us steal away her big customer.

  4. Alicia

    Charming story Dan. BTW, have you seen Fawcett’s new baby? Very cute

  5. brdpoker

    He was definitely a character. One of the first encounters I had with famous poker people was with Stupak and Minneapolis Jim Meehan. Jim had bummed a light from me and we had been talking for a minute when Stupak came over; Stupak was complaining about how unlucky he was, and Jim countered with a worse-luck story. They traded a few, then they started mock arging over who had less money in their pockets. I think Jim had about $7 and Bob had $4.

    Then they were going to arm wrestle for it, but ended up getting hung up on the details of the bet.

    Either way, it was damn entertaining to watch these two old poker guys bickering over a few bucks and their bad luck.

    RIP Bob.